Membrane biogenesis in anoxygenic photosynthetic prokaryotes

Gerhart Drews, Robert A. Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Following the discovery of photosynthetic bacteria in the nineteenth century, technical developments of the 1950s led to their use in membrane biogenesis studies. These investigations had their origins in the isolation of subcellular particles designated as 'chromatophores' by Roger Stanier and colleagues, which were shown to be photosynthetically competent by Albert Frenkel, and to originate from the intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM) continuum observed in electron micrographs. These ultrastrucutral studies by the G. Drews group, Germaine Cohen-Bazire and others also suggested that the ICM originates by invagination of the cytoplasmic membrane, as later established in the biochemical and biophysical work of the R. Niederman and Drews groups. Through a combination of genetic approaches, first introduced in the early 1980s by Barry Marrs, and the atomic resolution structures determined for light-harvesting antennae and reaction centers, a detailed understanding is emerging of mechanisms regulating their levels in the membrane and the roles played by specific protein domains and additional factors in their assembly and supramolecular organization. Prospects for additional progress during the twenty-first century include further elucidation of molecular aspects of the assembly process and the application of newer spectroscopic probes to photosynthetic unit formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


  • B.L. Marrs
  • D. Oesterhelt
  • G. Cohen-Bazire
  • H. Molisch
  • Light harvesting complexes
  • Membrane development
  • Photosynthetic bacteria
  • Photosynthetic membranes
  • R. Y. Stanier. C. B. van Niel
  • Reaction center complexes


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